October 21st, 2021

The Gospel according to Luke (12:49-53)

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Opening Prayer: God of power, might, compassion, and mercy help us, in meditating on this gospel message, to consider the risks and rewards of following the life, words, and example of your son, Jesus Christ.  Grant us the courage and grace we need to follow him.

Encountering Christ: Anyone who lives in California knows well the effects of wildfires.  They begin with a spark then quickly become massive, destructive fires that consume thousands of acres.  Jesus once again uses something, in an analogy, that can be destructive but focuses on a certain element to emphasize something.  In today’s gospel he says he came to set the earth on fire and that he wished it was already blazing.  His emphasis is on the intensity of his message.  His message is not one with the intent to destroy and create havoc, or is it???  How many times does Jesus great others with the offer of peace?  He offers us a peace that the world cannot give us.  Does this gospel or his wish for the earth to already be blazing contradict this peace?

Haven’t you ever been so passionate, so inspired by something or someone one that you felt your heart would burst out of your chest if you didn’t share this with someone.  Maybe it was you first love or your forever love.  Or maybe it was something you experienced in a prayer service or retreat.  I remember coming home after a Cursillo weekend so on fire that I couldn’t wait to get home so I could share what I felt in my heart with my family and friends.

Some received what I shared with interest and enthusiasm, some with mild curiosity, and others with a been there done that, I don’t need that attitude.  This was not, nor will it be the last time I have similar experiences with my desire to share the radical message of love Jesus came to spread on the earth.  In my home I have had heated discussions about who Jesus is and what he left us when he returned to his father.  The division that Jesus speaks of is in all our homes at one point or another.  This is the cost of following the good news.

One of the things that makes the message of Jesus so controversial, intriguing, and radical is how can good news cause separation?  Because it requires so much of us and not everyone is ready or able to pay the price.  We often become so rebellious when it comes to change, especially when it calls us to reach what may seem something beyond our grasp or capability.

Imagine for a moment how different our world would be if we, like Jesus, would be in anguish until his mission were accomplished.  How different would things be if we were so on fire that we forged ahead regardless of the cost.

One of the most amazing things about a wildfire, whether natural or caused by humans is the resurgence of new growth.  Haven’t we seen the images of an area devastated by fire and the little green plants and trees sprouting from beneath the ash.  Maybe this is what God is asking from us right now.  Is there something that needs to removed and replaced by a virtue or desire.  We all know that we cannot give what we do not have.  What is keeping us from the intensity we need to serve God by following the difficult yet rewarding steps of his son, our brother, Jesus?

In searching our hearts and finding what that is may we have the courage and humility to follow through with what is required.  May we all be consumed by the fire of God’s love and purified of the weight of sin and discouragement and sprout the seeds of love this world so desperately wants and needs. 

Closing Prayer: Dear Lord, may we be inspired by your descriptive and challenging words.  Division is something we should expect because the call to follow and serve you presents all of us with a choice.  We either follow you or follow our own desires.  We pray for all, whatever path they choose.

Action for the Day: Pray for those who have been separated from your life because of your choice to follow Christ.  Ask God to help you see, with your heart, if the divisions are about the message of Jesus or our pride to be right.  Is it possible that reconciliation with a loved one is closer within reach than you think?  Jesus came to save all.  Our part is to love and be an example of that love by how we follow not by that we follow.

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Pexels.com

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